I wonder if reading through this brief blog could lead you to a powerful new insight?
I spent some time recently with a friend and colleague, Julie Stuart. She introduced me to some new ideas, including the idea of “wondering”.
As we wandered through lovely Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland Hills, she began to show me how easy and powerful this practice is.
I wonder if getting outside might help you shift perspectives on something where you feel stuck?
The following is a rough take on our conversation.
Julie: “I’m really enjoying the practice of wondering. The idea is that we try to drop all our preconceived thoughts about why we can or can’t do something and simply wonder aloud about things. Would you be willing to try that with me?”
Me: (Thinking…I’m not sure how I can drop all my preconceived thoughts about stuff..so this sounds like it will be hard.)
Me: “I’m feeling some resistance to this but sure, let’s go for it and see how it goes.”
Julie: “OK. The way we’ll do this is that I’ll wonder something aloud and then it’s your turn. We’ll keep taking turns and see where it leads.”
Me: “Sounds good.”
Julie: “I wonder what it would be like if you weren’t feeling resistance to this?”
Me: (Thinking…Damn, I better come up with a good ‘wonder’ else she will think I’m lame. Wait, that’s my stupid inner critic getting in my way. Just dive in!)
Me: “I wonder where else my resistance gets in my way?”
Julie: “I wonder what I’m going to have for dinner tonight?”
Me: “ (Thinking…OMG. I love you for saying that. You’ve just removed all the stress/resistance I was feeling about this having to be super serious and perfect.)
Me: “I wonder if my girlfriend and I will watch a movie tonight?”
Exiting the conversation and returning to the blog. This went on for a while. After a few minutes, Julie lightly shifted our focus by saying “I’m going to start wondering about your business if that’s ok with you.” It was.
We ended up on a park bench staring at the beautiful tree-covered rolling hills. Julie made it clear that I could “jump out” of our wondering at any time if I felt called to have a conversation about what was coming up. We began flowing back and forth between conversation and additional wondering. It was beautiful.
Suffice to say that LOTS of new and interesting ideas came forward during the remainder of that conversation.
I wonder what aspects of your current top priorities could benefit from a bit of wondering?
Fast forward to that evening. I was telling my girlfriend about this activity and could tell she was intrigued. I suggested that maybe we try it. She had no hesitation and was ready to jump right in.
It proved to be both enjoyable and valuable. There was an issue she had been wrestling with for a while (and I had been talking about it with her and doing some light coaching on it). Well, in about 10 minutes of wondering, she came up with multiple new ideas and insights that led to positive action. Wow. 10 minutes.
There’s something about “wondering” that feels less daunting or stressful. There’s no need to get it right or be perfect. Wondering can be playful and we can “wonder” things that we might not be comfortable “stating” or “asking.” There’s a freedom here that makes a real difference in the types of questions and ideas that come forth.
Wondering cues imagination. Our more normal modes of thinking tend to be limiting and keep us (often unknowingly) closed down. Wondering and imagining are expansive and open us up.
Here’s a cool HBR blog that was posted just a few days ago entitled 5 Questions Leaders Should Be Asking All the Time. I was excited to see that “I wonder….?” Is included in the list.
I’ve become a bit of a “wondering evangelist.” I attended a coaching conference last week and couldn’t contain myself from sharing this with many other coaches. And here I am now, sharing this more broadly through cyberspace.
Here are a few additional wonders to help get your juices flowing:
I wonder what I might do on <xyz project> if I wasn’t worried about being judged?
I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t take care of other’s needs before my own?
I wonder what I would be doing if I really believed in myself?
I wonder who in my world would be up for wondering with me?
I wonder if it would serve me to make wondering a new go-to practice?
I wonder if I can be ok with knowing that sometimes the practice of wondering won’t lead to any breakthroughs or insights?
The list of possible wonders is infinite and certainly each of us has our own list of things to wonder about.
I wonder what you will wonder about? I wonder what that might lead to for you?